Weber: State not the bluest of them all
The year nears its close with yet another dash of politics, this one courtesy of the Conservative Political Action Coalition. The national organization known as CPAC just issued its ranking of California’s Legislature, and — no surprise — finds it to be one of the most liberal in America.
However, it is not the most left-leaning. That title goes to Massachusetts.
Also beating out California for “radical left” honors are Rhode Island and Hawaii. California places No. 47 in the ranking, with Massachusetts at No. 50. That means that The Bay State’s legislature voted in agreement with CPAC just 15 percent of the time.
The findings left longtime California political observer Dan Walters amused.
“It’s not like a great revelation to find out the California Legislature is pretty liberal,” said Walters, a columnist for CalMatters. “I am surprised it was not (No.) 50. I don’t know what they do in Rhode Island, Hawaii and Massachusetts that is different from California.”
California is well documented as a blue state: It has the nation’s toughest gun-ownership laws, voters just enshrined the right to abortion in the state Constitution, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has put out the welcome sign to any LGBTQ people facing discrimination elsewhere. The Golden State also has a supermajority of Democrats in both the Assembly and state Senate.
All that said, there are pockets of conservatism. In fact, two of the most conservative members of the Legislature are Republicans from the Fresno area, according to CPAC.
They both received CPAC’s “Award for Conservative Excellence and Achievement,” which is based on how often their votes aligned with the organization’s stance over “186 policy areas ranging from cultural and life issues to tax, fiscal, and regulatory policies.”
The most conservative politician serving in Sacramento? That honor goes to Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, who represents foothill areas east of the capital city. He got a 98% ranking.
Sadly for California’s much-maligned GOP, both Borgeas and Bigelow are nearing an end of their current terms in Sacramento. Their respective regions got absorbed into new ones with redistricting, and they decided not to campaign for a new territory.
Assemblymember Jim Patterson, another Fresno Republican, was in the middle ground with a 78%. It was well below his 91% from the previous year and his 92% lifetime average in the CPAC listing.
Tulare Republican Devon Mathis earned a 72% score.
Two Democrats from the region were found to be the most conservative of their respective houses. In the Assembly, Adam Gray of Merced had the “highest” score with a 33%. In the Senate, Melissa Hurtado of Sanger notched a 20% tally.
Both faced tough election fights — Gray, for Congress, and Hurtado in the state Senate — and, as of now, remain behind Republican opponents in close races. So it is understandable they would have voting records less liberal than their Democratic colleagues on the coast.
Fresno Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula did not make CPAC’s “Coalition of the Radical Left” list, as he came in with an 11% rating, just above the 10% threshold.
So just how important are CPAC’s rankings?
“I don’t know if it is important at all,” said Walters. “It is just like any other state ranking. Organizations rate how friendly the Legislature is to business, labor, agriculture, that kind of stuff. This is just the same thing, on an ideological basis.”
In the end, the most important tallies are these: In the Assembly, 60 members are Democrats to 19 Republicans. In the Senate, there are 31 Democrats and just nine Republicans.
Yes, CPAC, California is a liberal state indeed.
Tad Weber is opinion editor for the Fresno Bee.
You can send a letter to the editor at email@example.com